Why the Cosmetic Surgery Industry is in the Spotlight for all the Wrong Reasons

Cosmetic surgery is a booming business and the statistics are really quite scary. In Australia we spend more per capita on cosmetic procedures than any other nation on earth and I find that really frightening.

The most frightening thing about the billion dollar cosmetic industry in Australia is that it is largely run by entrepreneurs that have discovered ways to cut costs, and it means cutting corners. Many of the cosmetic surgeons practicing in cosmetic clinics in Australia have no specialised surgical training and are using potentially toxic methods of anaesthesia.

Plastic Surgeons undergo many years of specialised surgical training and use general anaesthetic, all of which is heavily regulated and practitioners, and practices need to be accredited.


Cosmetic surgeons are not regulated in this way and are not licensed to give general anaesthetic. Instead they place patients under a light conscious sedation and administer heavy doses of local anaesthetic, which can be lethal.

It seems too good to be true, a glossy and glamourous clinic that is bright and clean and staff that put customer service first. Their prices are around half that charged with plastic surgeons, which makes cosmetic surgeons seem that much more attractive.

Cosmetic procedures are major surgery, but the way they are being sold by cosmetic clinics make them seem much smaller. You wouldn’t consider that major surgery would be performed under light sedation, even if it does make the recovery times much faster and allow these surgeries to be performed as day surgery.

60 Minutes aired a story September 20, 2015 about The Cosmetic Institute coming under investigation and they report that in the last 18 months at least 4 patients left the clinic in an ambulance suffering life threatening complications after undergoing breast enlargements.

One young woman suffered severe complications in surgery in that she went into cardiac arrest mid-procedure and another started seizing. These complications are side effects of high doses of local anaesthetic.

There are many reasons people are opting to book in for their procedures with cosmetic surgeons, not the least of which is the much more attractive price tag. Yes, that price tag might be a great incentive, and yes they will make what they’re offering seem like a dream come true; which I’m sure it is for many people looking at surgery options but often if it seems too good to be true it really is.

Cosmetic clinics are a booming business and for them to be gaining so much popularity there has to be happy customers singing their praises but please keep in mind the unhappy customers who almost lost their lives in their quest for bigger breasts.

Make sure you do your research and read the fine print. I like the looks of a smaller price tag but I think if I was to go in for major surgery I would want an accredited and licensed surgeon, not a doctor who has undertaken unregulated training with a licensed plastic surgeon in a cosmetic clinic.

Cosmetic surgery is a booming billion dollar industry that Australians are happy to pay for, there is no denying that. Before the cosmetic clinics started a roaring trade Australians would head overseas to buy their beautiful bust and I think a lot of the attraction to the cosmetic clinics is that they are Australian so patients would expect they are held to rigorous Australian practice standards but at the moment this is not the case.

A spate of recent patients coming forward to speak out about botched operations and unexpected ambulance trips has sparked an investigation by the Health Care Complaints Commission. The patients came forward initially because they wanted to make sure that other women considering breast augmentation at cosmetic clinics were aware of the risks.

This spate of medical emergencies has called into question the need for tighter regulation, it will be interesting to see what comes of the investigation.

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